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Identification cards of people linked to the operation, including Airan Berry. Photo: Miraflores Presidential Palace/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A Venezuelan court on Friday sentenced two ex-U.S. special forces soldiers to 20 years in prison for their part in a failed operation to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, AP reports.

Why it matters: The case comes amid heightened tensions between Washington, D.C., and Caracas after the Trump administration last year publicly supported opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has vowed to oust Maduro through a military uprising.

  • Luke Denman and Airan Berry, both decorated former Green Berets, were found guilty of conspiracy, trafficking in illegal arms and terrorism.
  • Their lawyers said they were barred from judicial proceedings Friday night, adding the court violated their constitutional right to a defense.

What happened: “Operation Gideon” launched from Colombia in early May and left at least eight rebel soldiers dead while another 60 were jailed, per AP.

  • Another former Green Beret, Jordan Goudreau, took responsibility for the failed attack and said he hired Denman and Berry to prepare for the attack.
  • Venezuelan prosecutors have ordered Goudreau's arrest, though he is believed to be in the U.S.

American officials have denied a role in the raid, and have not said what knowledge they have about camps in Colombia that the group used to organize the operation.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration would work to win Denman and Berry's freedom, according to AP.

Go deeper

Updated 31 mins ago - Health

Texas to end all coronavirus restrictions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the White House in December 2020. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas will end its coronavirus restrictions next week with an upcoming executive order, Gov. Greg Abbot (R) announced Tuesday during a press conference in Lubbock.

Why it matters: After Abbott signs the new order, which rescinds previous orders, all businesses can open to 100% capacity and the statewide mask mandate will be over, though large parts of the state will remain under mask local ordinances.

Senate confirms Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D). Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Senate voted 84-15 on Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to lead the Commerce Department.

Why it matters: The agency promotes U.S. industry, oversees the Census Bureau, plays a key role in the government's study of climate change through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and evaluates emerging technology through the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Updated 57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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